Designer Minnie Bhatt thoughtfully yet effortlessly places Indian design elements in an international décor at Mirchi and Mime restaurant, creating a magical amalgamation.
Unlike the perception—a good restaurant is about good food—the reality is that ‘a good restaurant is much more than just good food’. In an urban set up restaurant is also a place to unwind, catch up with friends and a place where one can enjoy the solitude amidst people. With intent of giving the most comfortable yet intriguing environment to its patrons, Mirchi and Mime restaurant stands out in the crowd. Designer Minnie Bhatt effortlessly blends the Indian and the International bests to design an elegant yet cozy restaurant.
“The concept of the restaurant evolved after many brainstorming sessions with the clients Prashant and Anuj, who wanted a contemporary ambience because the restaurant was to serve contemporary Indian food. Mirchi and Mime was designed from the viewpoint of foreigners and how would they perceive modern India. If personified, the place was to have the personality of a well-travelled food connoisseur, standing firm on finesse and elegance. Hence, the creative idea was to blend elements of Indian culinary culture with the aesthetic sensibilities of the west,” says Bhatt.
Highlighting the Indian-ness of the place is the wooden rolling pin along with small planters on a giant screen which complements the simple façade of the restaurant. The space is square and edgy and a lot of creative experiment was done to lend fluidity to the place, hence the arch in the ceiling.
The kitchen is kept open with simple clean lines and a modern look. The counter tops are in matt gray IPS (cement based finish) and are complemented by the gleam of the copper-gold tandoors, thus creating an interesting play of textures.
The furniture layout was done keeping in mind the varied size of groups that would occupy them. So the preferred option was flexible seating arrangements. The central seating area has sectionals (L-shaped sofas) and chairs placed back to back, while the sides of the restaurant have long running sofa and tables, which can be joined together when needed. “A lot went into finding the right chair for the restaurant, as we wanted perfect chairs in terms of size, comfort and utility. The table tops are finished in red oak veneer, stagger joined to bring its appearance as close to natural slats of wood as possible,” explains Bhatt.
In certain places, walls are clad with fire bricks and then slightly painted over to lend texture and a subtle rusticity to the ambience. The window behind the long running sofa was creating a strong horizontal line and was therefore camouflaged with tall window panes in a chequered wood grid to resemble classical window shutters.
Recipes of Indian food are printed on handmade paper and fixed in place of the glass of the window panes adds a quirky touch to the ambience. The dividing walls between the sofas are low and wide and have cloches of different sizes filled with vintage memorabilia from Indian kitchens and the history of Indian culture from the Moguls to the British rule—like, chess pawns, royal ‘Farman’ or scroll holders, tiny coal stoves, vintage clocks and more. The concept was to keep the content are Indian, while the holders or bell jars are western.
The same design ethos follows through to the private dining area walls creating a visual communication of the philosophy of the restaurant. Vintage Indian kitchen accessories like brass graters, ladles, stoves, nut crackers are mounted on the walls with light wood frames surrounding them. Thus the overall visual is modern while the artefacts are very Indian. A simple sliced log of wood forms the light fitting over the long dining room table. The bar area counter top is again a log of wood with a live edge. The bottle display shelves behind the bar are also made in chunky wood planks with the edges left raw and rugged.
With almost every design element being customised the restaurant can be rightly called a custom-made place for its patrons. Right from furniture, cloche stands, tables, couches to decorative light fittings and artefact laden walls, the restaurant turns out to be an interesting mix of fine Indian taste and international decor.